As in past years, the November lunch was preceded by the Annual General Meeting of the Long Room Wine and Food Society with a report on the past 12 months’ activities and our finances.
This proved to be a simple and smooth function without any contentious matters arising and we were quickly downstairs in the Long Room to enjoy drinks and a beautiful range of canapés. The first wine was a Red Claw Mornington Peninsula Sauvignon Blanc matched with some delicious canapés -- freshly rolled assorted sushi, vegetable tempura, prawn tempura and sticky pork belly.
Lunch was then served in the dining room. The food was an Asian tasting plate of steamed yabby with tom yum sauce, slow-cooked baby abalone, chicken and shitake mushroom parcel and silken tofu with
scallop. This dish was brilliantly presented and combined well with the wines, a Red Claw Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris and a Yabby Lake Chardonnay which were both enjoyable and even more so once they had warmed a little.
The main course was another feature of the day with a beautifully presented lacquered soy duck with rice noodle roll and steamed Chinese broccoli. Accompanying this dish was a Yabby Lake Vineyard Pinot Noir -- the traditional wine served with duck -- and a Heathcote Estate Grenache Noir which was 93 per cent Grenache and 7 per cent Shiraz.
The cheese was most enjoyable and I hope will help to introduce many people to the joys of goat’s cheese. This was Monet fresh goat cheese and was served on individual plates with homemade crisp bread.
It was matched with Heathcote Estate Shiraz which many guests thought was the wine of the day. It was a good example of Shiraz from the district which has developed as a premium area for this style of wine.
Dessert was a baked Bombe Alaska served to each table which was spectacular and enjoyed by all. It was accompanied by a lovely dessert wine from Hollick Coonawarra, “The Nectar” from 2006. For those still peckish there were delicious petit four of baked mini-Chinese egg custard tarts with coffee and a selection of teas.
This was the last lunch planned by our hard-working Wine and Food Master David Fyffe and I think all will agree David’s efforts and the work of guest chef Jeremy Woods and his team were outstanding. Alex Gillon, who had been confirmed as president for another year, was host for the day. He commended David for his work over the past four years and introduced guest winemaker Todd Dexter, whose outlining of his group’s wineries and their products was most informative. He spoke eloquently about his past experiences and the style of wines produced by his company.
Assistant to the CEO and Wine and Food Society member Peter French delivered the annual “state of the nation” address that brings members and guests up to speed on what’s happening around the club. Peter can’t attend often because of work commitments and we are grateful that he could stand in for CEO Stephen Gough this year.
Wednesday October 29
Last month we enjoyed the wines and food of Chile at the Society’s annual International Luncheon. The Members Dinning Room was decorated with posters promoting the country and during the function we were entertained by a two-piece band playing traditional music.
Our day commenced with canapés and pre-lunch drinks in the Long Room. The canapés covered an exciting range - a Morcilla sausage with spiced pear, a chicken empanada, crisp whitebait in a cone and, for those who were game, a Sangria which had been prepared in the traditional way. The canapés were matched with Valdiviesco of Chile Brute Extra, a sparkling wine that drank well with the different and tasty foods.
Next was a traditional seafood entrée - whole sardines, pan fried with sauce romesco and spring herb salad. Accompanying the dish were a De Martino Parcela 5 Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and Medalla Real Chardonnay Santa Rita. Both wines were from 2007 and went well with the food. As usual, both developed in the glass and were enjoyable drinking whites.
The main course was the feature of the day - a large char-grilled rib eye cutlet rubbed with chimichurri, pressed potato, piquillo peppers and thyme and served with tossed salad to share. The cutlets were huge, beautifully cooked and presented and created an interesting talking point around the room. The red wines which accompanied the dish were a Perez Cruz Reserva Carmenere from 2007 and a 2003 Sideral Rapel Valley. The latter was a very smooth wine and should develop further with age.
The cheese which followed was a typical semi-hard Chilean-style cheese and with it we had a De Martino Alto De Piedra Single Vineyard Carmenere from 2006, which drank well but as with most young red wines would improve with age. The Manchego cheese was served with quince paste and grilled flatbread.
Our dessert was a traditional Chilean Dessert Flan de Nata with alfajores biscuit and rum-poached red fruit, matched with a Late Harvest Moscatel from 2007. The wine was not too sweet and a good combination with the typical cream custard dessert.
At lunch we were honoured to have in attendance the Chilean Consul General, Ignacio Concha, and representatives from Wines of Chile. We were addressed by the Consul General and then heard about the country and wines in detail from Daniel Fellhander, a representative of the importer. Daniel was brief and to the point in describing the different wine-producing regions of Chile and the influences under which the grapes are grown.
The final feature of the day was an enjoyable presentation from guest chefs Gabriel Freier and Marco Doganieri. We thank them for their entertaining words and for the efforts of their staff in sourcing the foods for a luncheon greatly enjoyed. As usual, they made it all sound so easy.
Wednesday September 24
It is always an exciting occasion when we dine in the Long Room during Grand Final week at the MCG. This year we enjoyed a typical September day in Melbourne after the chill of winter with the sun shining through the glass as we enjoyed our pre-luncheon drinks in the Percy Beames Bar.
Some 180 members and guests attended what was to be a special day – our first experience of a degustation menu at a Society luncheon. Guest chefs Shaun Crossling and John Bussell together with their able staff excelled themselves with their menu selection and presentation. The lunch concluded with a terrific speech by Shaun as he described how they had enjoyed matching, sourcing and preparing the food.
For starters we were pleased to sample a sparkling La Vie Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV with a matching range of canapés – sticky pork with grated apple, watermelon, tomato and basil kebab and a whisky sour shot layered with lime foam. The canapés were very tasty and complemented the wine perfectly – an excellent start to the day.
We repaired to the Long Room for lunch and the start of our degustation menu, starting with a selection of fine bread rolls and Victorian butter. The first dish served was a vichyssoise of oysters in a small tea cup which tasted delicious. Then followed baked prawns on iceberg lettuce, lemon and spiked mayonnaise. The third dish to complete the entrée section was a seafood ceviche flavored with tomato and coriander.
Accompanying these courses were two Rieslings. The first was a 2004 Palandri from Western Australia and a 1998 Elderton from Eden Valley, which had matured in the bottle.
After the entrée dishes it was time for our mystery wine competition. For this, Wine and Food Master David Fyffe produced a rare sample of 2005 Tempranillo from Trinity Hill in New Zealand. This resulted in perhaps the shortest mystery wine contest on record because there were only two or three questions before all but one were eliminated. David Brown’s table took the prize.
The next course was a salad of crispy duck toasted with picked watercress, ginger and sesame dressing followed by a beautifully cooked piece of aged beef fillet on celeriac remoulade, served with roast potato and prune jam. Both dishes were most enjoyable. They were matched with a 2002 Cliff Edge Shiraz from Mt Langi Ghiran and a 1999 Mount Chalambar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
The next wine served was a 1995 Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon and it was a top drop. The red combined extremely well with our cheese, a somewhat different combination of crumbled Stilton, walnuts, raisins and port syrup, all served together on a plate.
Before dessert we sipped a palate-cleansing Moroccan mint tea in readiness for a delightful passionfruit brulee accompanied by doused sponge and passionfruit sorbet. The dish was complemented by a beautiful De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon.
Our guest speaker for the day was well-known journalist and wine reviewer Jeni Port who spoke about the changing influences in the wine industry, with the presentation of new styles and how conscious the consumer had become especially with the alcohol level of the various wines. She discussed how these influences would be felt throughout all markets.
Special thanks again are extended to David Fyffe for his hard work in planning the function and to Joe Rotblat for producing the fine wines we enjoyed throughout the day. A pleasing postscript was that we didn’t have to compete with Grand Final rehearsals on the ground as in previous years, although for those who stayed later they were entertained by Powerfinger practising for Saturday.
Tuesday September 2, 2008
On a cold winter’s day in August 136 members and guests attended the Long Room for a very enjoyable lunch matched with tasty wines from Yarra Burn. This Yarra Valley winery was developed by our Wine and Food Master, David Fyffe, and it is easy to understand why their wines are now marketed by an international company. Their young assistant winemaker, Tim Shand, was most informative about the history of the winery and the wines we were drinking.
Pre-lunch drinks were served in the atrium where a sparkling Yarra Burn Pinot Noir Chardonnay matched the selection of canapés beautifully. We sampled brandade mousse with sweet corn and shiso sprouts, some oysters with fried Kilpatrick butter, a mini brioche topped with Californian date stuffed with black pudding and chilli tomato relish and caramelised shallot custard topped with mushroom glaze.
It was then time to move into the Long Room for lunch. We started with an entrée of excellently cooked confit of rabbit on creamy polenta with mushroom duxelle. The meat was very tasty and just fell off the bone. The dish was nicely matched with the Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Yarra Burn. Both wines were young and fruity as they should be, with a touch of oak in the Chardonnay.
The main course consisted of an olive-stuffed lamb saddle wrapped in prosciutto, served on a thyme and celeriac gallette and accompanied by sticky lamb shank on a baby vegetable and pearl barley ragout. The meats were beautifully cooked and presented. The lamb shank just melted in your mouth. The accompanying reds were a 2006 Shiraz Viognier, an enjoyable and lighter style reflecting the small amount of Viognier in the wine, and an older 2002 Shiraz which was an excellent example of a Yarra Valley/Pyrenees blend.
Some members thought our next wine, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, was the best for the afternoon. It was certainly very smooth and combined well with the cheese - a Gippsland Blue served on red wine-poached beetroot carpaccio with warm hazelnut vinaigrette. The combination of cheese and beetroot provided plenty of discussion but there did not seem to be a lot left over.
Then followed an enjoyable dessert, beautifully presented on the plate - a white chocolate and almond cigar served with strawberry foam in a small shot glass. It was an enjoyable dish that combined well with a 2004 Pinot Noir Chardonnay Rose from Yarra Burn. This sparkling wine was very smooth and quite different to the sweet still wines that normally accompany our desserts.
Our meal was prepared by guest chefs Shannon McKay and Michael Zangegu. Michael was present to provide an interesting and detailed presentation on the food they had prepared. He was able to answer the few challenging questions which are always provided at the end of our lunches.
Earlier, President Alex Gillon confirmed that Paul Kinross would take over from David Fyffe as our Wine and Food Master at the AGM in November. He thanked those who had indicated their interest in helping and assured them they would be called upon in the future to help Paul in this role. He also thanked David for his dedicated service over the past five years, a most productive period in the Society’s development.
21st Birthday Celebrations
I have always been told that a change is as good as a holiday. It was a great way to celebrate our 21st birthday with two functions on consecutive nights, with one dinner for members and guests and the following night for waiting list candidates and their guests. Both nights were successful and we enjoyed the company of more than 300 people in the Long Room.
As it was winter and cold an excellent decision was made to move canapés and drinks into the Long Room. The menus and drinks were identical for each night. To commence we enjoyed a beautiful soft Taylors Gewürztraminer with a selection of canapés.
They included a sumac and fennel seed-coated rare tuna with crème fraiche and salmon pearls, a pan-fried beef and mushroom gyoza with light soy and chilli ponzu and twice-cooked five spice pork belly on an apple and thyme risotto. After enjoying these canapés members and guests were keen to move to the tables for the main meal.
The entrée was an enjoyable Hervey Bay scallop and ginger mousse with lemongrass-scented snapper consommé and tempura prawn. This combination of foods was combined with an enjoyable selection of white wines from Taylors - a Jaraman Riesling from 2007 and a 2006 Jaraman Chardonnay. The feedback from all the guests on both nights was how well the food and wine matched.
For the main course we were served a grain-fed Portland eye fillet of beef with a gratin of local mushrooms, confit potato fondant and sauté baby chard. This was accompanied on the table by hand-picked green beans and baby Dutch carrots dressed in cold-pressed virgin lemon oil and cracked black pepper. The excellent red meat combined perfectly with a 2005 Taylors Shiraz and a 2005 Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wines were an excellent lead in to the 2003 St Andrews Shiraz which was served with the cheese. Most guests thought this to be the wine of the evening and was an excellent choice. The cheese we enjoyed was an Ironstone extra mature cheddar and a Woodside vine leaf-wrapped mature goats’ cheese served with fig and ginger biscuits, muscatels and sesame lavosh.
Lovers of dessert were not to be left out and we savoured an individual steamed blackberry pudding accompanied by vanilla bean crème anglaise, Cointreau-infused chocolate ganache and warm blackberry compote. To complete this beautiful dessert we served a glass of Muscat from our cellar. As is usual, we finished with plunger coffee and a selection of loose-leaf teas served with hand-crafted chocolates.
Throughout both evenings there were speeches from our president Alex Gillon and Wine and Food master David Fyffe. On the Wednesday evening we were fortunate to have as our guest MCC president David Meiklejohn who proposed the toast to our Society.
On each night we were entertained by Taylors’ chief winemaker Adam Eggins, who provided us with great entertainment and a little about the wines we were drinking. He spoke with great passion about trying to produce the best wines possible.
Our guest chef was Blair Humphrey, who completed two wonderful nights with a detailed explanation of what he and his team had produced. They had done a magnificent job. Many thanks to all concerned because it had been a huge effort and a great success.
June Luncheon Excursion
Wednesday June 25, 2008
Our June function followed a tradition in recent years with the luncheon being held away from the MCG. Forty-eight members and guests arrived early at the MCG to board a bus which then headed down to the Mornington Peninsula. Numbers were a little down this year, but this was probably due to the earlier start than normal.
Our first stop was at Hickinbotham Winery where winemaker, Andrew Hickinbotham took us through his range of excellent wines. The first wine we tasted was a crisp, fruity 2007 sauvignon blanc followed by a 2006 chardonnay with aligote – lots of vanillin characters with a long dry finish.
We then proceeded to the reds. First was a 2004 Family Reserve pinot noir, a great example of a Mornington Peninsula pinot noir - cherries, plums and truffles. This was followed by the 2000 Hickinbotham shiraz –lots of black cherry and white pepper. The 2000 cabernet merlot was the last wine tasted, although some of us then tried the excellent boutique beers that are brewed at the winery.
We then moved on to Red Hill Estate, our venue for lunch in Max’s Restaurant. The view from the restaurant was breathtaking with ocean views in three directions. Red Hill winemaker, Michael Kyberd, introduced the wines that were to accompany lunch and provided a brief history of the winery. Red Hill, established in 1989 by Sir Peter Derham, has won many awards both for the wines and the restaurant.
Chef, Ben McDermot, had cooked us a delightful lunch well matched by the wines that accompanied each course.
We started with some delicious Flinders mussels steamed in chardonnay tossed through julienne vegetables and double cream with a hint of chilli. These were accompanied by a 2007 sauvignon blanc and a 2005 Classic Release chardonnay – the same wine that was used to steam the mussels.
Main course was a “perfectly cooked” roasted duck leg with orange glaze served on butternut pumpkin purée. The duck was a real treat! Two reds were served with the main course, 2006 Bimaris cabernet, shiraz merlot and 2005 Red Hill Estate shiraz. The shiraz was too cold when first poured, but when it finally opened up turned out to be a delightful wine that typified a good Mornington Peninsula shiraz.
A local Red Hill blue cheese was then served with a fruit and nut disc and accompanied by 2005 Red Hill Estate cabernet sauvignon. This was probably the wine of the day although there were plenty of fans of the chardonnay.
Dessert comprised a selection of deserts – lemon tart, mince tart, sticky date pudding, rich chocolate mouse and more cheese. The desserts were delicious but most thought the additional cheese was not needed. Our dessert wine was a 2005 Red Hill Estate botrytis semillon which matched the desserts perfectly.
Chef, Ben McDermot then came out to describe the meal and to answer our questions. There were lots of questions from “budding chefs” about how to steam mussels and how he had prepared the duck. Ben provided some useful insights into both!
Another very successful function away from the MCG and many thanks to Wine and food Master, David Fyffe for all the organisation he put into making the day such a great success.
Tuesday June 3, 2008
Last month our lunch was attended by almost 160 members and guests when we helped Tyrrell’s Wines from the Hunter Valley celebrate their 150th year of operation. The day was most enjoyable as we sampled several of their enjoyable wines matched with delicious food from the Guest Chefs Peter Haycroft and Travis Dines and all their helpers in the kitchen.
As usual drinks and canapés were served in the atrium which is a bright sunny start to the day. The Pinot Noir Chardonnay was light and enjoyable with an interesting choice of Canapes being a selection of Ocean trout tartare, Thai-inspired ling fish cakes and Scampi, saffron and verjuice risotto.
We then moved to the Long Room where Entrée was served. This was Veal sweetbreads with peppered pancetta, baby herb and endive salad and lemon aioli matched with two white wines from the Hunter Valley. We enjoyed a 2000 Vat 1 Hunter Semillon and a 2005 Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay which provided a variation of styles and combined very well with our food.
Next followed Main course and for a change we were served with a Beef, thyme and onion pie with pea puree, carrot and potato dauphinoise. During the course of lunch there was a choice of Breads served with Australian cultured butter and Murray River flaked salt. Whilst we enjoyed these foods it was time to sample some fine red wines with a combination of a 2006 Single Vineyard Barossa Shiraz Mourvedre and a 2005 Single Vineyard Stevens Shiraz.
Another red wine was served with the Hunter Valley Washed Rind Cheese and was accompanied with sticky quince jam and sourdough crisp. The wine served was a 2004 Vat 8 Shiraz Cabernet and these two were an enjoyable combination and for lovers of a soft cheese this was an excellent example.
The dessert was one which needed to combine with a red wine because Tyrrell’s Wines do not produce a desert wine. Our chefs produced a delicious Haselnut nougatine and vanilla mascarpone mille-feuille with spiced glaze while we sampled a 2006 Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz. To conclude the meal coffee and tea were served with a selection of chocolates and house-made biscotti.
Before and after our main course we listened to Bruce Tyrrell who provided many interesting antidotes about the history of his Company and their celebrations. Bruce is the fourth generation of his family to be in charge of the wine group and the one responsible for expanding outside their traditional home of the Hunter Valley. In addition to the interesting information about the past 150 years he provided much in depth detail about the wines we had to drink.
We were also treated with some interesting words from our guest chefs as they described the food we had eaten and let out some of their secrets and hard work when answering questions about some of the more difficult functions in preparing the food.
Wednesday April 30, 2008
The last Wednesday in April turned into a cold and rainy evening ensuring over 220 members and their guests were well pleased to be in the warm dining room enjoying the excellent food from our guest chefs Shandelle Moore and Renee Guymer matched with a wide selection of the enjoyable wines.
The night commenced in the Long Room where the guests enjoyed a selection of either Little hash browns with corn salsa, Potato-wrapped fish cakes with Thai chilli dipping sauce or Chicken San Choi Boi on witlof. These delightful tasting canapés were beautifully match with a Whitlands Blanc de Blancs which is a light sparkling white wine from Brown Brothers our wine hosts for the dinner.
We then moved to the Members Dining Room and continued to enjoy a beautiful meal from our chefs. It commenced with an Entrée of Seared Queensland scallop with lemon and saffron buerre blanc combined with a Whitlands Riesling and a Brown Brothers Vermentino. This was our first encounter with a different grape variety for which Brown Brothers has become famous. We heard more from our guests John and Ross Brown on how they had developed a nursery on their property which they use for delving into the science of growing different grapes and developing them for their wines.
The main course was an Asian-infused confit rack of pork served with sauté greens and ginger-spiced jus. This was a delicious meal and just right to blend with the excellent red wines selected. The two red wines chosen were from their Patricia label and the varieties we tasted were a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are premium wines from our hosts and in recognition they are named after their Mother.
Then followed an enjoyable selection of Cheese with a selection of King Island cheese being a Black Label Blue Triple Cream, Stormy Wash Rind and Black Label Cheddar with fresh figs and quince. It was fitting to have such beautiful cheeses to eat with an excellent Brown Brothers Shiraz Mondeuse Cabernet from 1998.
The desert was a Lemon lime delicious pudding with lashings of King Island pure cream served in individual small bowls and presented with a Brown Brothers Botrytis Riesling being just the correct combination to finish an enjoyable meal. Of course there was served coffee, tea and Petits Fours together with Cognac or Muscat to round off the evening for those who were still present.
During the evening we heard both John and Ross speak about their organization, its history and development and some details of how it was continuing to cope in the world market. Also near the end of the evening our Chefs were able to speak about preparing the excellent dinner. We had a few questions but most areas were covered and the lack of a roving mike made it difficult.
Lanson Champagne Tasting Evening
The special Champagne tasting evening held in April was so popular that it needed to be held over two evenings to accommodate the 90 members and guests who attended. What better way to enjoy vintage champagne than overlooking the magnificent floodlit MCG.
Richard Goodwin, Australia and New Zealand Manager for Lanson introduced the champagnes and provided some background on Champagne Lanson and the Champagne region of France in general. Lanson, established in 1760 is one of the largest champagne houses in the region and has a reputation for producing some of the finest champagne available.
We started the evening with a number of non-vintage champagnes including the Rose Brut and the Black Label Brut. We were then treated to magnums of the 1996, 1990 and 1976 vintages showing just how well quality champagnes can age.
To complement the champagnes, we were served a light supper of oysters and a beautiful French washed rind cheese. The popularity of the evening was reflected in the large number of orders placed, including the magnum gift pack containing the 1976, 1990 and 1996 vintages that we had tasted.
Wednesday March 26, 2008
The March lunch was a cellar day and held in the Long Room. The day commenced in the atrium and as the sun streamed through the glass we drank No. 1 Cuvee Family Estate sparkling white from New Zealand. David Fyffe, our Wine and Food Master, has a very high opinion of this wine and it was an excellent start to the day, combining brilliantly with the canapés. These were an interesting diversity of tastes covering a variety of meats and seafood. Unfortunately it is not always easy to be in the right place to try all of these delightful sounding starters. They started the Asian theme for the food which was continued on during the other courses.
We then moved to our tables and were treated with a fabulous entrée. This beautifully presented tasting plate was Thai-inspired and included a House-smoked ocean trout with banana flower, crackling, roast chilli and basil, tom yum soup with West Australian blue swimmer crab and salt and pepper quail with hot and sour salad, ginger flower and cucumber nahm jim. This entrée provided an interesting selection and was a delight to eat as well as blending extremely well with the Rieslings chosen from our cellar. They were a Lewin Estate Art Series from 2000 and a Petaluma from 2002. These wines had developed well in the bottle and would be expected to continue improving well into the future.
The main course was a beautifully tender piece of Black Angus beef which had been perfectly Char-grilled and served with a range of vegetables. These were Japanese-themed and included crayfish gyoza, king brown mushrooms, baby turnips and goma ponzu sauce, garlic chips and soy, and mirin and ginger dressing. The main was accompanied by a separate plate for the table and included hand picked beans and snow peas also marinated in the delightful dressing. This course and the following cheese were matched with the delightful selection of red wines also from our cellar. We drank a Stephen John Shiraz from 1997, an Elderton Command Shiraz also from 1997 and finally a Peter Lehmann 8 Songs Shiraz from 2000 to complete a fabulous selection of wines. These wines were good to start with and just got better as they breathed in the glass if they were allowed to last that long.
The meal concluded with a beautiful dessert which was a combination of almond jelly with lychees, rock sugar and basil seeds, black sticky rice with coconut cream, lime and custard apple and Japanese plum wine jelly with green apple sorbet and candied ginger. This was light and enjoyable for those who enjoy an excellent desert and was combined with an Emeri De Bortoli Pink Moscato for those who needed more to eat and drink.
David Fyffe was an excellent choice to speak about the wines which we enjoyed. As usual we included a mystery wine which was a lighter red wine from the southern Chianti region of Italy and not guessed by anyone present. We thank him for his great knowledge and comments about the wines presented and to those who had the foresight in recent years to purchase them when they did for our enjoyment.
The presentation from our guest chef Tony Cimmino didn’t need to be lengthy because the food was beautiful and well presented. The menu was extensive and included many details of the ingredients and did not need a lot of discussion from the 146 members and guests present.
The February 2008 luncheon featured Hollicks Wines from Coonawarra, and 196 members and guests, including 11 from our waiting list, gathered in the Members Dining Room following pre-luncheon drinks and canapés in the Long Room.
Departing from the usual, we were presented with a Hollick Botrytis Riesling on arrival, and this was accompanied by canapes of honey-galzed pork belly, duck liver pate and spice lamb ragout, a sweeter variety than usual chosen by chef Stephen Moloney to compliment the sweeter wine. A well received opener to the day.
The entrée consisted of an Ocean Tasting plate containing Hervey Bay scallop and sautéed prawn tail, cured salmon and salmon pearls, all of which were very tasty, and were presented with a lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate prior to sampling the seafood. The accompanying wines were a 2006 Reserve Chardonnay which was very flavoursome and compared well with the 2007 Chardonnay only recently bottled.
Stephen Moloney introduced a new innovation in carving and plating the main course, Northern Rivers Rack of Veal, in full view of the members and guests. Some felt that the veal tended to be a little chewy and was more like yearling beef, but the majority found it to be a flavoursome and tender dish – mine certainly was. The vine-ripened cherry tomatoes presented on their vine sprigs were a talking point and very tasty. The two red wines were a contrast with the 2004 Wrattonbully Shiraz overshadowed by Hollick’s premier Ravenswood Cabernet 2001 and, while very enjoyable, especially when given time to breathe, still has better years as it ages.
The King Island Cheddar and Stormy Washed Rind Cheeses and crackers were enjoyed by all, and the accompanying 1999 Cabernet Merlot was excellent, with most agreeing that it was the wine of the day.
For the sweet-tooths of the group, dessert consisted of an Apple Tarte Tartin with caramel sauce and vanilla cream, well worth waiting around for, along with another change in style, a 2006 Sparkling Merlot. The changes in approach with the opening and closing wines raised conflicting comments, some preferring to keep to the straight and narrow, others welcoming the innovation and the opportunity to try something different – I think so.
It has become the tradition that members only meet in the Long Room during January for lunch. They discuss what has been happening during the cricket and festive seasons and show off their finest old bottles of wine. This year was well attended with 74 members and their specially selected bottles. In the words of Jeremy Oliver, our wine judge and guest, an excellent selection of wines was presented, mainly of the red variety as members tried to excel with the oldest and the best. It is not always the oldest which proves to be superior and this year the winners were Mark Robinson with his presentation of a 1990 Dom Perignon Champagne and Ian Kerville for his 1980 Howard Park Cabernet Sauvignon. Our congratulations go to both the winners especially to Ian who has tried very hard every year to produce the most enjoyable red for tasting.
Lunch was of an excellent standard and we were well entertained by our guest speaker Michael MacNamara who is the proprietor of Marylands Guest House at Marysville. In his position he has accumulated extensive experience and knowledge and spoke to us about sourcing and stocking a large cellar to cater for his many clients. This has provided him with a vast knowledge of wines and has shown him the importance of maintaining a very high reputation.
In keeping with previous years, the bar provided an excellent place for those to continue their discussions and have another drink to “cleanse the pallet” before heading home. Unfortunately this there was no entertainment on the ground for the cricket enthusiasts.